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Scattered Sundays

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We’ve now come full circle with our solar panels and have had them online/producing energy for almost one full year. I thought it would be fun to do a little update on how they’re working for us.

If you need to catch up on the deep dive I did on our solar process, you can read this post from last May. It’s super helpful to read if you are thinking about considering solar in the future. Especially when it comes to how to fund them!

Our system is set up for net metering. This means that during the day, our panels are generating power and sending it to the grid. And when the sun goes down, we’re using power from the grid.

From April thru early October, our panels generate much more energy than we are using. The value of all that extra energy is “banked” in our account. When the days get shorter and we produce less, we start to draw from that surplus.

Any surplus that we bank must be used by March 31st. On April 1st, our credits restart at 0. Our dumb power company doesn’t pay for excess power generation, so our system was built on the idea that it would cover 90-100% of our yearly power usage.

digital display from solar panels.

And, my friends, we would have made that $0 in payments on March 31st if it hadn’t been for the basement flood and getting an electric car last summer. Our solar needs were built around our energy usage in 2021, and we didn’t have an EV during that year.

Between the industrial dehumidifiers and fans that were running 24/7 for over a month to dry out the basement AND charging our used Nissan Leaf, we ended up paying $300 out of pocket for April 1, 2022 through March 31, 2023.

Considering our EV has saved us well over $5k in gas since we bought it, I’m pretty ok with the $300 in billing for the year. That being said, hopefully, there are no additional flooding disasters, and on March 31, 2024, our yearly bill will be $0.

When we had our system installed, the federal tax rebate was set at 26%. With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August of 2022, the rebate was bumped up to 30%. Guess who has two thumbs and loves bigger tax rebates? This girl!

a messy office.

And speaking of taxes, I almost always do ours by the first or second week of March. For whatever reason, I let it go until the very last minute this year and finished everything this past Wednesday. It’s always so stressful, so I’m glad it is over.

I had everything done and ready to submit to ye olde IRS. My mouse was hovering over the “submit” button and then I decided to google “is there a tax rebate for buying a used EV”. And my, friends, THERE IS!

I was shocked that we got such a huge tax break for buying a four-year-old car, but I’m not questioning it. This was also a nice little perk of the Inflation Reduction Act, so I guess I need to publically say thank you to Joe Manchin. Thanks, Senator Manchin!

a baby and an older kid with the easter bunny.

Bennett’s baseball team started playing games this week, and my gosh, baseball is so mind-numbingly boring. The kids seem to have fun, and it’s definitely silly, but wow, what a snoozer of a sport.

On the flip side, Jack is at a soccer tournament this whole weekend. They played two games yesterday and we’re heading back this morning for his third game. This man child has been running his butt off all weekend. I wish I had put my Apple watch on him to see how many steps he took in 48 hours.

About two months ago, I started slowly rewatching Arrested Development on Netflix. Troy and I were huge fans of this show when it initially came out, and oh my gosh, it still totally slaps. It’s absolutely (almost) perfect.

The writing and smartness of the show are still so well done. But, like anything from the early 2000s, a lot of the jokes didn’t age well. It came out in 2003 and frankly, I’m shocked at the jokes at the expense of marginalized groups that were considered ok only 20 years ago. Cringey moments aside, the show is worth a rewatch.

a kid dressed as a bunny in a kitchen.

In “I’m the world’s oldest 41-year-old” news, I’m currently grumpy because our library system is changing apps on May 1st. Yes, they have been advertising this for 18 months. Every single time I use the current app to download books, it warns me to switch to the new app.

This change is not a surprise, but I’m waiting until the very last second to start using the new system. It’s not even that I’m worried that the new system is hard; I’m pretty tech-savvy with most things. It’s just that I’m freaking busy and I like being able to do things without thinking about it.

So, I downloaded a ton of books from our library ahead of their app switch, and then I turned the wifi off my ancient Kindle so that they can’t repo the books. I keep a running list of book suggestions on the Notes app on my phone, and I went on a downloading spree of all the books that were currently available.

a pizza holder in a kitchen.

In “absolutely useless information” news, I have to share this stupid thing that we got that I love and also laugh at. It’s this pizza storage thingy that is hilarious and also rad. As a family that consumes a lot of homemade (and store-bought) pizza, this thingy saves so much space in my fridge.

It’s definitely a “unitasker” in that it serves no other purpose other than storing leftover pizza. It collapses for easy storage and comes with little plastic dividers to separate each slice of pizza.

What I’m reading this week

I finished A Man Called Ove, and as you all predicted, I loved it! Many people recommended the Swedish movie version instead of the Tom Hanks one. I’m not sure when/if I will watch the movie, but if I do, I’ll start with the Swedish one.

Of the nine new books I was able to borrow during a library downloading spree, I started with The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

READER SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Longtime reader, and current GOAT of rating recipes, Erin, left this five-star review on our Lemon Garlic Pasta {Pin this recipe}:

Another Lent comes to an end and this recipe is still going strong in our rotation throughout the year as a meat-free option! Even my Mom (who doesn’t enjoy garlic) likes this sauce once we cut the garlic in half — we love her so we make the sacrifice. We sometimes mix in shrimp for a fun seafood twist, too.

ON SUSTAINABLE COOKS THIS WEEK

Ham Fried RiceMake this easy Ham Fried Rice for a meal that the whole family will love! This takeout-style fried rice pairs well with so many dishes and is ready in a flash. {Pin this recipe}

a beige bowl with ham fried rice topped with sliced green onions.

Ham and Beans RecipeThis easy Ham and Beans recipe is incredibly tasty and hearty! This is a fantastic meal for repurposing delicious leftover ham and veggies. {Pin this recipe}

a white bowl with handles filled with ham and beans and topped with a slice of bread.

Freezing GarlicLearn all the tips and tricks for Freezing Garlic to save yourself time and money. A stash of frozen garlic in your freezer can easily be added to main dishes, soups, and sauces for quick meals. {Pin this tutorial}

a dark blue bowl filled with cloves of garlic and 2 heads of garlic.

THE FIVE MOST POPULAR POSTS THIS WEEK

  1. Garlic Butter Rice – I can’t think of a week that goes by in this house without at least one batch of this comfort food being made. {Pin this recipe}
  2. Air Fryer Cookies – I’m a big fan of this recipe and you’re going to love it! {Pin this recipe}
  3. Air Fryer Egg Rolls – vegan and vegetarian as written but super customizable! Oh, and did you know you can FREEZE these? {Pin this recipe}
  4. Make Ahead Scrambled Eggs – I was honored to be part of people’s Easter breakfasts! {Pin this recipe}
  5. Gluten-Free Scalloped Potatoes – because everyone deserves delicious potatoes, even if you can’t tolerate gluten. {Pin this recipe}

MEAL PLAN

Last week was super busy and I did a terrible job of meal planning. Every day was stressful trying to figure out what we were going to be eating. Sometimes these things happen, but I really don’t like it. Back to actual planning this week. For my own sanity’s sake.

Monday:: Pasta and veggies

Tuesday:: Troy is making dinner and we’ll be excited to eat it.

Wednesday:: Homemade frozen pizza because it’s going to be a gong show of a day.

Thursday:: Breakfast for dinner.

Friday:: Popcorn, leftovers, and movie night.

Saturday:: Takeout to save my sanity and support a local small business.

Sunday:: Testing a new recipe that my children will hate. It’s going to be so much fun.

What are you having this week?

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10 comments on “Scattered Sundays”

  1. Yeah, not many people have just one slice of leftover cake . . . until there is magically one piece left. How about a couple slices of pie?

    For the first time EVER, we are getting a wee bit of a return on our taxes. The difference between what we had to pay to the Feds and what we are getting back from the State yields a $23 piddly surprise for us . . . I bought my granddaughter a toy (even before the check has been received).

    Loved Ove the book. Liked Ove the movie. Will have to watch the real movie. I find that I like most foreign programming better than U.S. shows. I don’t even mind reading subtitles (although it limits what I can do when “watching” . . . no multitasking).

    Today is our 40th anniversary. We celebrated yesterday, but I told my husband that I would cook him whatever he wanted for dinner tonight. He selected your Instant Pot Beef Tips. It was a hit per usual . . . one of his favorite meals. I love that he is fairly easy to please . . . because that recipe is definitely easy and is great tasting! Thank you!

    • Unless it’s a solid piece of pie that can stand up to stacking, I’m not sure it would work well in the pizza thingy.

      $23 is the perfect amount to get back or owe. It means basically everything balanced out in the end.

      Happy anniversary and I’m so honored to have been part of the celebration! That also reminds me that I should make those soon.

  2. Just finished work and couldn’t wait to read your weekly update. Thanks for all your hard work every week. I know we don’t know each other IRL but it has been so fun keeping up with you and the family thru the years. 
    Glad you got a big return – we owed as usual. Boo!

    Hope you have a smooth week 🙂

    Jan

    • Haha, I didn’t get a big return. I just owed less than normal. Last year we owed A LOT!

      Hurray for being off work.

    • You should never want a big refund from Uncle Sam. It just means you voluntarily overpaid the Tax Man, who keeps all that interest, money that could be in your paycheck or college savings or retirement funds.  

      When we were 20-somethings we thought it was great to get a big refund. Now we aim to pay as little as possible to the IRS; it takes effort but it’s worth it in the long run. 

  3. Agree with recommendations to watch the Swedish version of A Man Called Ove. The book was great; and Tom Hanks is a talented actor, but the Swedish movie is great.

    I have mixed feelings about the goody bag of EV provisions in the pretend Inflation Reduction Act.  For starters, we are income-disqualified. For the sake of the environment, though we did the math on replacing Darling Husband’s ride with an EV, and found that our costs would increase by $650 per month, not an insignifacant amount. My 2 year-old internal-combustion engine vehicle is the one we use for weekend outings; replacing mine with its Hybrd counterpart would raise our monthly costs by four figures. (Not doing full EV; we don’t like to hang in Wal-Mart parking lots waiting for the car to charge.) We love the environment, but that monthly differential is better put into our decimated-by-the-trillion-dollar-government-spending-bills retirement account.  

    Have no idea what the dinner menu will be this week. Darling Husband is on travel for three days, which probably means I’ll just stand in front of the refrigerator eating tiny pickles with a glass of wine, or making peanut butter crackers with the saltines and settling in with my latest read. ‘Tis the beauty of empty nesterhood. 

    • Yep, I think it’s very different for every family. I don’t think there is a one size fits all for anyone. Troy’s commute is 120 miles roundtrip and his 17-year-old truck gets about 15 mpg. That’s a very hard pass, especially with last year’s gas prices!

      Enjoy your “single-lady” dinners! Appetizer fridge clean outs are the best.

  4. That pizza saver thing is funny but also pretty cool.  I know what you mean about the space saving – leftover pizza can really take up a lot of room in the fridge!